Tuesday

12th Dec 2017

Judges to cross-examine Barroso in tobacco lobby case

  • Barroso is set to appear at the EU court of justice in Luxembourg (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso is to appear at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in a tobacco lobbying scandal which refuses to go away.

He is to answer judges’ questions as a witness in the tobacco case on Monday (7 July), before lawyers from both sides give their arguments on Tuesday.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The case was brought by former EU health commissioner John Dalli, who left office in disgrace in 2012 amid allegations of solicited bribes.

Barroso’s head of cabinet, Johannes Laitenberger, will be at his side in Luxembourg, as well as the head of the commission’s legal services, Luis Romero Requena. Dalli’s former head of cabinet, Joanna Darmanin, and former spokesperson, Frederic Vincent, will also attend.

Dalli wants the Court to annul Barroso’s request for his resignation on grounds he had secret contacts with Swedish Match, a mouth tobacco company.

He also wants the commission to pay a symbolic €1 in damages for the “non financial” harm he has suffered, and compensation for his loss of earnings as a commissioner.

But the Barroso side says there was no request for Dalli’s resignation and that he stepped down of his own accord.

“It’s all basically down to the circumstances surrounding Mr Dalli’s departure,” a contact at the Luxembourg-based court told this website.

More broadly, Dalli maintains his innocence in the campaign by industry to water down the EU's Tobacco Products Directive.

The scandal led to accusations of unlawful meetings between Barroso’s inner circle and tobacco lobbyists, as well as mismanagement of inquiries by the head of the EU’s anti-fraud office, Olaf.

Dalli is not the only person who refuses to let the matter rest.

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, late last month also opened a probe into allegations the commission failed to disclose meetings with tobacco lobbyists in contravention of United Nations rules.

As a signatory of the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the EU is required to reveal all meetings with the tobacco industry.

The convention’s preamble says that all parties “need to be alert to any efforts by the tobacco industry to undermine or subvert tobacco control efforts and the need to be informed of activities of the tobacco industry that have a negative impact on tobacco control efforts”.

O’Reilly’s probe stems from a complaint in May by the pro-transparency group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), which says top commission officials from the secretariat general and members of Barroso's cabinet held 14 undisclosed meetings.

The contested meetings include representatives from tobacco giant Philip Morris International, Swedish Match, and an unregistered lobbyist working for the European Smokeless Tobacco Council.

The commission says it complies with the UN rules and is transparent.

It says it disclosed all its meetings that took place in 2011 and 2012 between the tobacco industry and its directorate for health and consumer affairs (DG Sanco). It also says it provided information to the European Parliament on contacts with the tobacco industry.

"It is therefore wrong to speak about undisclosed meetings", says commission spokesperson, Pia Hansen.

Agenda

Barroso takes the stand in Dalli case This WEEK

EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso will take the witness stand at the European Court of Justice this week in the latest act of the Dalligate lobbying scandal.

Centeno: Eurogroup picks Southern head

Portuguese finance minister was chosen by his eurozone colleagues with a 'very substantial majority' after he appeared to be the only one ticking the boxes.

Analysis

Suddenly, digital single market doesn't 'need' EU agency

EU digital commissioner Gabriel downplayed the rejection of the commission's plan for a strong EU telecommunications watchdog, highlighting that the elements of the digital single market are not set in stone.

News in Brief

  1. EU to Israel: Don't expect us to move embassies
  2. EU Commission condemns anti-semitic 'Jerusalem' protests
  3. Ministers have 'lots of questions' on new CAP plans
  4. Commission: Brexit agreement is 'deal between gentlemen'
  5. 25 EU states sign defence cooperation pact
  6. Netanyahu wants 'hardy' talks with EU on Jerusalem
  7. French centre-right elects new leader
  8. Germany and UK increase arms sales

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage

Latest News

  1. Alignment with EU is 'last resort', May tells MPs
  2. Iceland: further from EU membership than ever
  3. Israel presses Jerusalem claim in EU capital
  4. From dark coal toward a brighter future
  5. UK casts doubt on EU deal in 'bizarre' twist
  6. Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership
  7. Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants
  8. No chance of expanding EU warrant crime list